On September 14th, a Saturday night no less, Jahn Xavier And The Bowerytones are playing Arlene’s Grocery on the Lower East Side. It is the official release party for Yes, You, his eagerly awaited new soul rock album.
Currently available on Amazon and in the process of a wide release which will build to New York dates this Autumn and a National tour by Spring. “Breaking an album is a longer process”, Jahn explained at the Americana Lincoln Center concert in early August.
Damrosch Park was hopping and it seemed as though everybody knew the wildly popular singer, who has spent a life as the ambassador of the Lower East Side. I have written about Jahn’s career extensively, and you can catch up here, but now we are concentrated on Yes, You. “It’s the first time in my life that I’ve ever walked away with a record in my hands and gone that’s the way I wanted it done’. In a lifetime of working on things, it is the first time I’ve ever walked out completely satisfied with the results.
“You have your own set of standards for yourself as an artist. There are sounds you hear in your head that you would like to get.”
The sound Jahn was not 100% satisfied with was on the Nitecaps Go To The Line, “As much as I enjoyed working with Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley on Go To The Line, we had sort of gone for them without realizing that at the time they were not known for producing bands with a heavy guitar attack.
“We had loved their drum sounds and their horn sounds and so we kinda chose them on that basis. They were not our first choice. Our first choice was Seth Justin of the J Geils Band. Well, our real first choice was Chris Thomas but he was so busy that there was not even a consideration. We actually went into talks with a guy called Joe Wissert and Joe had produced the first two Earth Wind And Fire albums and all the Turtles stuff and Laura Nyro stuff, and we really liked him a lot. And he was great, he was a real stand up guy, And he said to us ‘It costs $40,000 for me to produced your album and it’s a brand new band, you shouldn’t pay that much money.
“Years later I heard that record “Would I Lie To You” by the Eurythmics and that really loud guitar and horn attack was like how the Nitecaps sounded live. I remember calling Al Maddy and playing the record and saying ‘see, that’s the sound I wanted’.”
Yes, You found Jahn with the right people in the right place: “I worked with a great engineer Seth Glassman and another engineer called Larry Alexander who recorded the basic tracks, all the overdubs were done with Seth and producer JR Moore. He produced “The Breaks“ by Kurtis Blow. He’d been a friend and adviser of mine for a few year. I was about to throw a record together myself when put up the financing and produced it .
“There were no demos in the process of making this record. I had a bunch of songs that I wanted to do and then I went in to start recording them a couple of months earlier at a friends home studio and I realized I didn’t know how the songs should go. Faster or slower or shorter or how to edit them so I decided to put the recording on hold and form a band so I could go out and see how people reacied to the songs live.
“As I saw how the audience reacted I enforced one part or cut another.” That really explains one of the reasons Yes, You is so listener friendly, Jahn arranged it with listeners in mind. “If I am going to make a record it is predicated on the fact that I am going to want people to hear it, listen to it and enjoy it. Charlie Roth, plays bass on the album, he also plays drums and keyboards in other bands, and and each one of them like a master. But his other great talent is, he has the best ears and he was invaluable in arranging the material and keeping it focused.”
In this day and age a 50 minute album of all new material seems foolhardy. The music business moves so fast that a series of smaller releases, EPs, might make more sense. But Jahn is no fool, “I wasn’t terribly focused on making a record that the whole world would listen to. I understand the realities of the record business are these days. My primary motivation was to have a document. It had been a long time since I’d recorded, I felt that it was strong, and I just wanted to have a document. Something that my daughter could play for my Grandchildren somewhere down the line and say ‘This is where your Grandfathers work really began to take shape’. ”
I could think of no better fate for Yes, You than to stand as a signature work for Jahn. It is a thrilling piece of music, timeless despite its political leanings, and romantic but a wide eyed old fashioned change the world romance. Jahn is an old fashioned guy, true to his friends, self-respecting, perfectionists and crowd pleaser. Yes, I want his Grandchildren to listen to Yes, You, but I want you to listen to it as well. Try and make it to the Arlene’s Grocery gig September 14th, you won’t regret it.
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